Unto the Wither Hills

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Psalms 121.1. I had to memorise that in Standard 4 Sunday School. I never forgot it – I learned it well. So well that when the S4 boys were made to stand up and recite the Psalm in unison, it became a solo after the second verse. How the other boys must have hated me! In hindsight I might have gained more friends by learning less. Also in hindsight, I think I missed the point of the Psalm because subsequent translations and verses explained that help doesn’t come from the hills but comes from God. Nevertheless when I discovered tramping in the hills a few years later I did think that I learned a lot. Tramping helped me a lot in my (normal) troubled youth and I always remembered that verse. Living and working in Dunedin it was easy and reassuring to lift up mine eyes unto the hills. So too in Wellington where you can see the Southern Crossing of the Tararuas on a good day. And so too in Blenheim, where it is easy to lift up thine eyes and see the Wither Hills. They are symbolic in Blenheim, being not so much withered by February as bleached.

The good folk of Blenheim had the good sense some time ago to set the Wither Hills aside as a Park – a farm park. There are lots of tracks for walkers and some for mountain bikers. And being hills there are uphills and downhills. And for the cost of 20 minutes uphill effort there is the reward of a wonderful view over Blenheim and the Wairau Valley with Cook Strait a bonus to the right and the peaks of Nelson Lakes a bonus to the left. There are drinking fountains up valleys and on top of ridges. And up Quail Stream there is a flush toilet. It amazes me every time I flush it. We have a favourite circuit which takes in the lookout and Quail Stream which takes us an hour and a bit. There’s lots of variety. We can do it clockwise or anti-clockwise. And to or from the lookout we can take the direct route or the zig-zag route. So you can’t say we’re set in our ways.

Friday was our first day back in Blenheim and I started the day with a dentist appoinment. Not my favourite way to begin. But crikey, this guy was so quick I hardly had time to be nervous. Examined, injected, recorded, drilled, tooth rebuilt and finished in 30 minutes. Speed dentistry is the way to go. After getting over that we went round to visit my sister and brother-in-law and overstayed for lunch before retreating to Suzi at the Racecourse for some lazing around. Finally late in the day we got ourselves over to the Wither Hills to restart our walking campaign. It was a lovely evening and a lovely reacquaintence with the hills of Blenheim.

Yesterday – Saturday – Wyn visited the hairdressers and I visited a local market to load up on veges and fruit. I’m going all health conscious – slowly. I’m scouring the supermarket for the macrobiotic icecream but Countdown doesn’t seem to stock it. The afternoon passed relaxing and I made some hummus – my first attempt. Our olive oil had something foreign in it – maybe it grew. So I got on my bike and took myself off to the local RSA who have their own olive grove and make their own olive oil which is a great idea.  Finally we ran out of excuses and had to get out for our walk – back to the Wither Hills. The Blues Brews and BBQs thing was finishing as we headed past the A&P Showgrounds and I got breath tested going and coming back. I was a bit worried about my garlic breath from testing the hummus but the machine didn’t seem to worry about that. 

It was a lovely evening for a walk in the hills – calm and warm enough. And with the atmospherics Port Underwood looked unusually close. We zoomed round our circuit in 5 minutes less. At this rate, if we were here for another fortnight we’d get round in no timne at all! 

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